Facebook's Zuckerberg says universal basic income is a 'bipartisan idea'

By Business Leaders

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company's annual F8 developer conference, Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) (Noah Berger)

Facebook (FB) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is renewing his call for a universal basic income in the United States.

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In a post on his social media page, Zuckerberg wrote about his weekend in Alaska—part of his “Year of Travel” challenge—where he and his wife, Priscilla, visited local residents and learned about the state’s economic programs, in particular the Permanent Fund Dividend, a form of basic income which provides full-time, law-abiding Alaskans with a yearly check, typically between $1,000 to $2,000.

"This is a novel approach to basic income in a few ways," Zuckerberg wrote Tuesday. "First, it's funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes. Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net. This shows basic income is a bipartisan idea."

Zuckerberg said the dividend, established in 1982, reminded him of a lesson he learned early at Facebook.

“Organizations think profoundly differently when they're profitable than when they're in debt,” he wrote. “When you're losing money, your mentality is largely about survival. But when you're profitable, you're confident about your future and you look for opportunities to invest and grow further. Alaska's economy has historically created this winning mentality, which has led to this basic income. That may be a lesson for the rest of the country as well.”

The billionaire founder of the tech giant previously brought forth the idea for universal basic income in America, promoting the concept at his commencement address to Harvard in May.

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“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” he said during the address to the Harvard Class of 2017. “We're going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable childcare to get to work and health care that aren't tied to one company. We're all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.”

As part of his “Year of Travel” challenge, Zuckerberg plans to visit each of the 50 states and talk to residents about their daily lives and future goals. In a post written at the beginning of January, he said he would only need to travel to 30 more states to fulfill the objective.